Friday, August 27, 2010

About Aboard Aboat

We bought a boat.

Okay, that’s vague. We bought a motor that is surrounded by enough fiberglass to keep it from sinking. My knowledge of boats is vast, though. For instance, I know that pirates like them. I know that they float in the water because of magic and pixie dust. I also know that they are not made of Salteen crackers or fur.

With this unparalleled knowledge, I ventured to the far reaches of Lynnwood to buy the boat that Jenny picked out. The nice man told me how the boat worked. I smiled and nodded. I was supposed to take notes (he didn’t tell me that). I then followed another guy around while he piled things in my shopping cart that I had to have for the boat to float; ropes, an orange flag, an airhorn (those are cool), a fire extinguisher (I thought we were supposed to use the boat in the water?), and some big white bumpers that look like King Kong’s Tic-Tacs. With my tools of the trade and my new boat, I drove the 3 hours back to Jenny’s workplace, and asked Jenny what we were supposed to do with it. She was already wearing her swimsuit.

I felt good going into the “boat ramp scenario”. I know how to back a trailer, by golly. It turns out, there is more to it than just backing down the hill. There are rules.
Rule #1You have to pay to push your expensive toys into the river.
Rule #2 If you’re drunk, you get to do anything you want.
Rule #3 If you push your boat into the river, you have to hang on to it or it floats away.

There is another rule, which pertains to this boat we now have. It really wants to go…. anywhere… now. When I started it up, Jenny was on the dock holding on to a rope attached to the front. Immediately after the engine roared to life, the boat left without my permission, and Jenny was left wondering what the hell she was going to do when the rope ran out. Luckily, the boat decided to just spin around by the dock. I tried yelling at it. I tried focusing my yelling on the steering wheel. I tried yelling at Jenny. I tried panicking too, but nothing worked. Now, what did that guy at the store tell me? Hmmm, I really should have written that down.

After giving up and waiting to be rescued by the Coast Guard, Jenny reeled me in like I was a giant catfish with a roman candle stuck in its bum. She jumped on board, and we spiraled out into the lake to fight a bit.

We’ve taken the boat out a few times since, and have had much better luck (not counting the stick in the impellor, having to get towed to the ramp, getting pulled over by the Park Ranger AND the Lake Patrol, and pulling the trailer out of the water with the boat snaking behind like a harpooned seal – dern winch strap).

Friday, August 6, 2010

Snakes or Bungees

I don't speak rattlesnake. Somebody go get Harry Potter. I need him to have a conversation with 'em.

Somehow, rattlesnakes spread the word this year that this canyon is the place to be. They've been moving in like it's a condo fire-sale in Hawaii. Only, it's a total screw up. These snakes are getting bad info. Every human up here has it in for them. Can you imagine getting a great tip on a cheap condo, buying it, then showing up with your sweet new luggage, and having the next door neighbor crack you in the head with a shovel? It would ruin your day.

So, I've tried to talk to them... the snakes. They just look at me with this "I don't have a medulla oblongata, dude," look on their reptilian faces. How am I supposed to work with that? So, we kill them. I'm a shovel guy myself. The uphill neighbor uses her SUV, and she does not differentiate between species. I've seen her careen off the road just to get both tires on a bungee cord. News Flash, crazy-lady: snakes aren't orange with black plastic hooks on each end.

A friend of mine was disgusted with me for killing the rattlers. He said, "Why don't you leave them alone?" and I replied, "Because they are a hazard!" His retort was, "Then, why don't you just go around getting rid of every hazard? Your mountain bike is a hazard, your car is a hazard, your ATV is a hazard.... you should get rid of those too!"

Okay, okay, I get your point, friend, but your logic is flawed. I have never been biking down the trail and had my sprocket latch itself onto my leg and inject enough venom to kill a dumpster-fed raccoon. Bike and car mishaps are operator error. Stepping on a reptile with an IQ of negative 10, sporting deadly weapons in it's mouth, sunbathing on my walkway is NOT my idea of a "whoops, I left the coffee pot on". Sorry buddy, but unless you want to come over every day and milk them, feed them, and put little corks on their hideous fangs, I'm going to keep my shovel handy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Scrub Your Mussels

While at my mother-in-law's house on the bay in Massachusetts, I told my son to go look for stuff down at the water. After I made the fridge a little lighter, and wandered back into the yard, my son reappeared with a bucket & a big grin, and announced he "found" dinner. He held the bucket out to me with both hands. I considered running away with my fingers in my ears and my eyes closed doing that "La la la la, I can't hear you..." thing. If you knew how good he was at catching live animals and enslaving them, you would not fault me on this. Instead of running, though, I stared at the bucket for signs of unnatural movement. Eventually, someone else must have decided I had gone comatose, and looked in the bucket. "Mussels!" came the happy response.

Sure enough, he had brought us dinner in the form of a bucket full of live mussels. When he asked if we could eat them, and he received the thumbs up, you would have thought he had just found a Nintendo DS Super Mario Brothers Super Kart with Rumble Pack. I don't know what that is, but I'm pretty sure it's good.

Everybody bailed out for the swimming pool (they waited for my son to bake in the sun, then broke off the mud layer like a boiled egg). And alas, I was left with a bucket of disoriented mussels to clean.
First, I tried cleaning the algae off with my mother-in-law's kitchen "scrubbie", which looked like it had been accidentally ingested, digested, and regurgitated by the last bucket of mussels (now I know what to get her for Christmas).

Next, I rummaged in mom-in-law's shed and found a stiff brush. The brush worked great in removing algae, muck, and human skin. I wondered if the mussels had any idea why I was spiffing them up and dropping them into a bucket of fresh water. Perhaps they thought they were all going to a nice aquarium with plenty of detritus to filter feed on into their old age.

With my beautifully exfoliated hands, I dumped the critters into a boiling pot with garlic and butter, just in time for appetizers (when I dropped them in, I plugged my ears and did the "La la la la, I can't hear you...." thing just in case mussels scream when you boil them alive... don't tell me if they do).

I must report that they tasted wonderful and my boy had more than his share.
Now it's off to the scrubbie store. It's never too early for Christmas shopping.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Thickly Settled

I'm in New England. It's an appropriate name for the region, because the locals speak English, but I can't understand them.

A few things you should know about New England.

#1 It's under construction. Pretty much the whole place... in general. They may call it "restoration", but let's not kid ourselves, shall we? The place is old and in a shambles. These guys are used to the construction in a scary, dangerous sort of way. Just up the road from my mother-in-law's house, they're redoing all the sidewalks. They're not stopping traffic... Oh no, that would be safe. Instead the workers have randomly chucked some cones about, and are just standing in the road with rakes and stuff while cars dodge them at 40 mph. Where the workers are completely blocking a lane, drivers have a special ESP that allows them to know whose turn it is to go. I don't have the ESP, so I consider myself lucky to have returned Mom-in-law's car with the side view mirrors intact (for the record, I totally missed those two teenagers on bikes).

#2 The traffic signs are for entertainment purposes only. Don't pay any attention to the speed limit signs, they will just distract you from the cars hurtling by. If you're on a bike, watch out for a gold colored Lexus SUV over the next couple of days. The driver is seriously distracted. Oh, and just down the road, there's a sign that reads, "Thickly Settled". It seems to me that this warning belongs on a container of Metamucil and not on a road, but who am I to second guess the road sign geniuses of New MassaVerConHam Island?

#3 The young people have been removed. In reality, there are a few little kids running around, as well as the two teenagers that I almost killed with the car, but other than that, rural New England has no young people. I have facial hair, so I felt reasonably safe being out in daylight.

#4 The states are really tiny. Back home, after a 3 hour drive, you're sill in the same county. Here, it's like, "Oh jeez, I dropped the crab pot. I think the float rolled over there into Vermont." Seriously, I got lost here on a bike a couple of years back and the lady at the junk shop gave me directions that INCLUDED the state name, "Fuhst, ya go down 103 to Massachusetts, then tuhn right towahd Rhode Island..."

So, if you ever make it here, enjoy the experience, but ask someone else to drive, and use a Sharpie to make some mustaches on your children, or else they may be taken from you right in the middle of your clam "chowda".